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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Spokane City Council

Police: Beware of panhandlers

Spokane police arrested a panhandler Thursday afternoon after discovering he had a stolen car.

A man left a vehicle parked near the Office Depot by Wellesley Avenue and Division Street and proceeded to the intersection with a cardboard sign to panhandle, according to a Spokane Police Department news release.

Officers discovered the car had been reported stolen from the South Hill area two days ago and arrested Alex D. Treadway, 30, as he returned to the vehicle after collecting money from a number of motorists.

Treadway was booked into Spokane County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle. He is a convicted felon with numerous Spokane-area arrests, including felon in possession of a firearm, armed burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and theft, according to police.

“Consider carefully who you might be rolling your window for,” police Spokesman Sgt. Jason Hartman said in the news release.

“The Spokane Police Department wants to remind the public that a multitude of government and charitable services exist, especially downtown, to assist people with food, shelter and medical needs,” Hartman said. “Members of the department are aware of numerous instances where panhandled donations have not gone for the stated purpose.”

The Spokane City Council passed an ordinance in August banning panhandlers in certain areas from reaching into the street to take money from drivers.

The affected area is south of Boone Avenue, west of Hamilton Street, north of Seventh Avenue and east of the Maple-Ash corridor on major arterials, including state highway routes. It also includes interchanges along the entire Interstate 90 corridor inside the city of Spokane.

Council addresses downtown assaults

An ordinance that bans sitting or lying on downtown Spokane sidewalks during a 14-hour period of the day could be expanded to include more hours after a surge of assaults in the area.

“If we can make the environment uncomfortable for people who are committing crimes or are contemplating committing crimes, I think that’s a good thing,” Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said Monday at the city’s Public Safety Committee meeting.

Read the rest of my story here.

Uptick in crime downtown a concern

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart is offering $10,000 from a City Council reserve fund for police overtime to help squash an uptick in crime downtown.

“After meeting with the business owners about their employees’ cars being broken into and a chef getting attacked, how can you not take action?” Stuckart said.

Read the rest of Jody Lawrence-Turner's story here.

Thoma sues city after settlement rejected

The fired police sergeant who was caught driving drunk and leaving the scene of a collision filed a lawsuit against the city on Tuesday for wrongfully firing him.

 Bob Dunn, the attorney representing fired Spokane police Sgt. Brad Thoma (pictured), said the suit is a response to the Spokane City Council’s unanimous vote on Monday rejecting a negotiated settlement.

The deal the council rejected would have given Thoma a demoted position as a detective, $275,000 in back pay and $15,000 for his attorney’s fees.

Read the rest of Jon Brunt's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 27: City Council rejects Thoma settlement

Jan. 8, 2011: Change in DUI law means Thoma can be rehired

Nov. 14, 2009: Thoma avoids prosecution for hit and run

City Council rebukes Thompson salute

Police officers who saluted Officer Karl F. Thompson in a federal courtroom earlier this month have received more official criticism.

The Spokane City Council on Monday voted unanimously to denounce the “courtroom behavior” of the nearly 50 officers who honored Thompson as he was led out of a hearing on his way to jail after being found guilty of two felony charges related to the police confrontation with Otto Zehm, a Spokane man who died as a result of injuries he suffered in the confrontation in 2006.

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Mayor-elect David Condon and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich have also denounced the officers’ salute, which was done in the presence of Zehm family members.

The nonbinding resolution, which was sponsored by Councilman Jon Snyder, also voiced support for the creation of a citizens’ panel, led by a former Gonzaga Law School dean, to examine the city’s handling of the legal matters associated with the case and Verner’s request to the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Police Department’s policies and procedures.


  

City Council limits ombudsman powers

Spokane’s police ombudsman on Monday lost the power to independently investigate misconduct allegations against the city’s law enforcement officers.

The Spokane City Council voted 5-2 Monday to repeal police oversight rules it approved unanimously last year, blaming an arbitrator’s decision in July that determined the expanded powers violated the Spokane Police Guild’s labor contract.

Read the rest of Jon Brunt's story here.

Past coverage:

Aug. 23: Council debates police oversight rules

July 13: Police ombudsman rules downgraded

City to hire lawyer to defend police suit

The Spokane City Council on Monday agreed to hire a local attorney to help the city defend itself in a lawsuit filed by a Spokane police detective.

The city will pay Milt Rowland, a former assistant city attorney for Spokane, up to $75,000 to assist the city in the case brought by Detective Jay Mehring. Rowland is part of the firm Foster Pepper.

Jon Brunt has more at the Spin Control blog.

City council looks at police oversight

Spokane City Council members suggested they may need voters to save the stronger police oversight rules they approved last year, by working to place the concept on the ballot.

Passions were high during the council’s Monday meeting as they discussed overturning police oversight rules. The debate included a few shouting matches between attendees and Council President Joe Shogan.

Read the rest of Jon Brunt's story here.

Past coverage:

July 13: Police ombudsman rules downgraded

Quick thinkers earn police chief’s praises

For Dillon Fabie, there was no decision to be made. Just an adrenaline rush and a quick sprint across a parking lot and there he was, restraining a suspected purse thief as police arrived.

 “Instincts took over,” Fabie, 21, said Monday as he recalled taking the man to the ground in the north Spokane Walmart supercenter parking lot last November. “The next thing I know I’m all the way back here holding the guy.”

Fabie was among Spokane residents honored by police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick before the Spokane City Council on Monday. The Whitworth University student received the Chief’s Citizen Award, along with Karl Erbacher, who also is credited with stopping a purse-snatching suspect last fall.

Read the rest of my story here.

Mayor calls for hiring more officers

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner ordered the hiring of at least six new police officers to fill vacant positions within the department and called for adding more officers next year.

The move comes after Verner, facing a contested bid for re-election this year, sent two plans to City Council members last week that would balance next year’s municipal budget without raising taxes and provide enough money to reverse recent cutbacks to the police force.

“Even in the midst of a Great Recession, the city continues to strive to make Spokane the safest city of our size in the nation,” Verner said. “We are simply having to think creatively about other ways to reach that goal.”

Read the rest of Kevin Graman's story here.

Pot advocates speak to City Council

Medical marijuana supporters on Monday urged the Spokane City Council to support local dispensaries after a jury convicted an owner last week of felony drug charges.

 Representatives from Spokane Indicare and other dispensaries said they fear being shut down after Scott Shupe was found guilty last Thursday.

Indicare co-owner Surisa Arispe said the dispensary has paid $10,000 in sales taxes in the six months it’s been open.

City Council President Joe Shogan said he has no control over the state’s medical marijuana law.

“You want us to do something we have no power to do,” Shogan said. “Really, you should be contacting your legislator.”

Though the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has said dispensaries are illegal, authorities say more than 40 are operating in the area. No law enforcement actions against dispensaries have been reported since Shupe was convicted.

Lawyer Pat Stiley, who works with dispensaries, said Monday that he’s hoping Senate Bill 5073, which addresses dispensaries, will proceed in the Washington Legislature this week and give amnesty to current operations.

Stiley compared the fear from dispensary supporters after the Shupe verdict to the fear gripping Japan in the wake of a tsunami, earthquake and potential nuclear catastrophe.

“As you can imagine after that verdict, there was a lot of terror and fear in the community,” Stiley said. “The dispensary community in Spokane sounded a lot like the northern Japanese communities to me.”

Pot supporters halt City Council meeting

Supporters of marijuana legalization briefly halted last night's Spokane City Council meeting.

The protesters from Sensible Washington stood during the annual report to the council from Police Ombudsman Tim Burns, prompting City Council President Joe Shogan to order them to sit or leave. 

Rebeckah Aubertin, who said she is the Spokane recruiter for Sensible Washington, held two large signs.

One read: “Stop funding dirty cops.” Another said: “Prohibition hurts family.”

Jon Brunt has the full story at Spin Control.

Vote gives SPD ombudsman more power

Almost a year after he was hired, Spokane’s police ombudsman on Monday was granted the power to investigate cases of officer misconduct.

The Spokane City Council voted unanimously to increase the ombudsman’s authority after the third hearing on the topic in two months.

Kiondra Bullock, executive director of VOICES, a group that advocates for low-income people, called the council’s decision “historic.”

“We still have a long way to go, but we are extremely encouraged by the changes here tonight,” she said.

Read the rest of Jonathan Brunt’s story here.

Memo delays council’s ombudsman vote

Two dozen people urged the Spokane City Council to let the city police ombudsman listen to someone other than police about police misconduct, but a confidential legal memo stood in the way Monday.

Councilman Bob Apple was the lone opponent of an effort to delay for a month any decision on his proposal to let ombudsman Tim Burns conduct his own investigations into complaints of police misconduct.

Read the rest of John Craig’s story here.

Pot law proposal postponed

Marijuana advocates won’t have a chance of seeing relaxed enforcement of pot laws in Spokane anytime soon.

A ballot initiative seeking to make marijuana offenses the “lowest law enforcement priority” has legal issues with its language that supporters wanted to address before presenting it to the Spokane City Council.

The council voted Monday to postpone a hearing on the initiative “indefinitely.”

Proposed initiatives are reviewed by the city attorney’s office, who assists in developing the language of the ballot title and summary, and offers a legal opinion to the council.

The council is then asked to either put it on the ballot, or have the petition supporters gather signatures from the public. The marijuana initiative was filed with the Spokane city clerk on Nov. 4.

Read background here.

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